By Joe Chase
[This review covered the Towner's Woods to Ravenna section before it expanded to the east to connect with Kent. The trail has grown to about 9.8 miles from Kent to Ravenna.]
This is a relatively short trail connecting Towner's Woods Park in Kent with Chestnut Hills Park in Ravenna [in Portage County, Ohio]. (Note that Google calls this Chestnut Hills Golf Course; there is no golf).
The surface of the trail is about 8' wide and made of fairly secure crushed stone. In the more rural areas, grass has regrown in the center leaving two "lanes" which are in uniformly good condition.
Short stretches near road crossings are asphalt. The only area of concern is in Ravenna where a short stretch of the trail is squeezed between the railroad and a drainage ditch. The railroad is separated by chainlink fence, but part of the ditch is protected only by a temporary wire fence (further east, it's chain link on both sides)
The main trail runs along an old interurban line (same roadbed as the eastern leg of the Akron Bike and Hike Trail) and goes gently downhill, running through woods and meadows with few buildings visible for the first couple of miles. There are some pretty ponds along the way, but you need to hike a bit into the woods to get a good view. There is an active railroad parallel to the trail, but I've seen only one train while bicycling. At the Redbush Road crossing, pause to admire the elegant country estate just north of the trail.
As you approach Ravenna, the trail rises slowly again, and begins to follow much closer to the active railroad past picturesque old factory buildings north of downtown Ravenna. Near the end it passes a couple of old residential areas, then leaves the railroad and abruptly hooks north to end at Chestnut Hills Park.
As of this review, there are no facilities at the park and little place to park, but a parking lot is under construction, and there appears to be plumbing for future restrooms just being installed. Across Chestnut Street from the park is the Portage County Historical Museum; nice old buildings and a steam tractor parked in the yard. I have not yet had a chance to visit the museum.
[Two separate sections of the Portage Trail were connected with the construction of a 2.1-mile segment between Lake Rockwell Road in Franklin Township to Crain Avenue in Kent in the fall of 2008. This linked Kent to Ravenna by trail.]
Length: 9.8 miles / asphalt & crushed stone sections - 8' wide
Condition: Good - No loose spots or washouts. Most of the trail has developed a regrowth of grass in the center with good lanes on either side.
KSU trail section (not reviewed here) will connect to the main trail sometime in the future. It is about 3 miles long and extends from near South Lincoln Street to Dix Stadium off East Summit Street in Kent. Mixed surface of sidewalk and asphalt path. With varies from 12-40'.
Facilities: Public restrooms at the west end at Towner's Woods Park and Chestnut Hills Park in Ravenna.
Food: There are no retail or food establishments along the trail, but the western end isn't far from downtown Kent, and the east end cuts through Ravenna just north of the city center and just south of Robinson Memorial Hospital. Several restaurants and gas station mini-marts are fairly close to the trail.
Parking: Parking at the west end at Towner's Woods Park. The eastern terminus of the trail now has a twenty car paved parking area and public restrooms. The parking area is located in Chestnut Hills Park on Rte 44 in Ravenna.
Directions to Kent Trailhead: Start with the public parking lot at Towner's Woods Park north of Kent on Ravenna Road. The park can be reached from Rte. 43 in Twin Lakes (look for a life-size rhinoceros sculpture on the corner!). Proceed east to where Ravenna Rd. abruptly kinks to the right across RR tracks; the park is right on the corner. From the east, Ravenna Rd. can be reached by taking Brady Lake Rd. northwest from Rte. 59. If you come from Rte 43 in a tall vehicle, note there is a bridge with 9' clearance next to the Akron Water Treatment plant.
Tallmadge Kent Towner's-Woods Ravenna
14mi 9.2mi 4.4mi 0mi